Coming out of so long a trance, oft-repeated formulae took over. He told himself that when he woke he would be totally refreshed, and remember everything valuable that had transpired. He told himself that he would be stronger, quicker in body and mind, than he had been before he ventured to his rest-place. He told himself that only good would come of what he’d learned there.
Then he counted to three, opened his eyes, and sat up abruptly.
There before him, nothing had changed except shadows. These had grown shorter, then long again, as he and the adept had labored. Outside his cabin’s window, the sun was setting. The air smelled of dusk and night-blooming flowers, and carried the sounds of nocturnal insects.
For an instant he thought he was alone, that the adept had disappeared. But then he heard the old man’s voice, wispy and somehow weaker than it had been in his rest-place.
And saw the old one clearly, where he had not seen the man before. Still in a cross-legged position, the adept said: “Niko, my legs have fallen asleep. Can you help me?”
It was a touch the teacher was asking for – not ‘death touch,’ but ‘life touch.’ Niko had not used such a touch since his early training. But he did now. He swung his own legs off his pallet and knelt before the old man. He held his own palm out, toward the other’s body, and slowly extended it until he felt heat, and a current, a tide as if he had touched the sea.
Excerpt from a novel byJanet Morris included in At Odds with Destiny
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